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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Sentinel Real Estate Corp.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


October 8, 2010

U.S. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SENTINEL REAL ESTATE CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Gary A. Feess United States District Judge

[PROPOSED] CONSENT DECREE

Plaintiff U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the "EEOC" or "Commission") and Defendant Sentinel Real Estate Corporation ("Sentinel" or "Defendant") hereby stipulate and agree to entry of this Consent Decree ("Decree") to resolve the Commission's complaint against Defendant in U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Sentinel Real Estate Corporation, Civil No. CV 09-06949-GAF (FFMx) (the "Action"). On September 28, 2009, Plaintiff filed this Action in the United States District Court, Central District of California, for violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, and Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. The Action alleges Defendant discriminated against Charging Party by denying her a promotion because of her sex, pregnancy. Sentinel denies any wrongdoing toward Charging Party, and makes no admission of liability.

I. PURPOSES AND SCOPE OF THE DECREE

A. The Parties to this Decree are the EEOC and Sentinel (the "Parties"). This Decree shall be binding on and enforceable against Sentinel and its respective officers, directors, agents, successors and assigns.

B. The Parties have entered into this Decree for the following purposes:

1. To provide appropriate monetary and injunctive relief;

2. To ensure employment practices in compliance with federal law;

3. To ensure a workplace free from retaliation;

4. To modify policies and procedures regarding applicants for promotion or hire;

5. To ensure dissemination of an employment discrimination policy reflective of federal law, including pregnancy discrimination; and

6. To ensure training of California personnel regarding Title VII.

II. RELEASE OF CLAIMS

A. This Decree fully and completely resolves all issues, claims and allegations raised by the EEOC against Defendant in this Action.

B. Nothing in this Decree shall be construed to preclude any party from bringing suit to enforce this Decree in the event that any party hereto fails to perform the promises and representations contained herein.

C. Nothing in this Decree shall be construed to limit or reduce Defendant's obligation to comply fully with Title VII or any other federal employment statute.

D. This Decree in no way affects the EEOC's right to bring, process, investigate, or litigate other charges that may be in existence or may later arise against Defendant in accordance with standard EEOC procedures.

III. JURISDICTION

A. The Court has jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter of this Action. The Action asserts claims that, if proven, would authorize the Court to grant the equitable relief set forth in this Decree.

B. The terms and provisions of this Decree are fair, reasonable, and just.

C. This Decree conforms with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Title VII and is not in derogation of the rights or privileges of any person.

D. The Court shall retain jurisdiction of this action during the duration of the Decree for the purposes of entering any order, judgment, or decree that may be necessary to implement the relief provided herein.

IV. EFFECTIVE DATE AND DURATION OF DECREE

A. The provisions and agreements contained herein are effective immediately upon the date which this Decree is entered by the Court ("the Effective Date").

B. Except as otherwise provided herein, this Decree shall remain in effect for four (4) years after the Effective Date.

V. MODIFICATION AND SEVERABILITY

A. This Decree constitutes the complete understanding of the Parties with respect to the matters contained herein. No waiver, modification, or amendment of any provision of this Decree will be effective unless made in writing and signed by an authorized representative of each of the Parties.

B. If one or more of the provisions of the Decree are rendered unlawful or unenforceable, the parties shall make good faith efforts to agree upon appropriate amendments to this Decree in order to effectuate the purposes of the Decree. In any event, the remaining provisions will remain in full force and effect unless the purposes of the Decree cannot, despite the Parties' best efforts, be achieved.

C. By mutual agreement of the Parties, this Decree may be amended or modified in the interests of justice and fairness in order to effectuate the provisions of the Decree.

VI. COMPLIANCE AND RESOLUTION

A. The Parties expressly agree that if the EEOC has reason to believe that Defendant has failed to comply with any provision of this Decree, the EEOC may bring an action before this Court to enforce the Decree. Prior to initiating such action, the EEOC will notify Defendant and its legal counsel of record, in writing, of the nature of the dispute. This notice shall specify the particular provision(s) that the EEOC believes Defendant has breached. Defendant shall have thirty (30) days to attempt to resolve or cure the breach, however, the parties can agree to extend this period upon mutual consent.

B. The Parties agree to cooperate with each other and use their best efforts to resolve any dispute referenced in the EEOC notice.

C. After thirty (30) days have passed with no resolution or agreement to extend the time further, the EEOC may petition this Court for resolution of the dispute, seeking all available relief, including an extension of the term of the Decree for such period of time as Defendant or its successors are shown to be in breach of the Decree.

VII. MONETARY RELIEF

A. In settlement of this lawsuit, Defendant shall pay to Charging Party Ellie Escaip the gross sum of $60,000.00 (sixty thousand dollars and zero cents).

B. Sentinel will also enter into a separate and binding agreement with Charging Party, to which the EEOC is not a party. Sentinel agrees to pay for Charging Party to consult for one hour with an independent attorney regarding the agreement.

C. Sentinel shall forward to Charging Party, via certified mail, a check for the full amount within ten (10) days of the Effective Date of this Decree. The EEOC has determined that any monies owed under this Decree are designated as non-wage compensation under Title VII and no tax withholding shall be made. Defendant shall prepare and distribute 1099 tax reporting forms to Charging Party and shall make the appropriate reports to the Internal Revenue Service and other tax authorities. Within five (5) business days of the issuance of the settlement check, Defendant shall submit a copy of the check and related correspondence to Anna Y. Park, Regional Attorney, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 255 East Temple Street, 4th Floor, Los Angeles, California, 90012.

VIII. GENERAL INJUNCTIVE RELIEF

A. Discrimination

Defendant, its officers, agents, management (including all supervisory employees), successors, assigns, and all those in active concert or participation with them, or any of them, are hereby enjoined from discriminating against any individual in the terms and conditions of employment on the basis of pregnancy.

B. Retaliation

Defendant, its officers, agents, management (including all supervisory employees), successors, assigns and all those in active concert or participation with them, or any of them, are hereby enjoined from engaging in, implementing or permitting any action, policy or practice with the purpose of retaliating against any current or former employee or applicant of Defendant or its successors, or either of them, because he or she has in the past, or during the term of this Decree, (a) opposed any practice made unlawful under Title VII; (b) filed a charge of discrimination alleging such practice; (c) testified or participated in any manner in any investigation (including, without limitation, any internal investigation undertaken by Defendant or its successors) or proceeding in connection with this Action or relating to any claim of a Title VII violation; (d) was identified as a possible witness or claimant in this Action; (e) asserted any rights under this Decree; or (f) sought and/or received any relief in accordance with this Decree.

IX. SPECIFIC INJUNCTIVE RELIEF

A. Policies and Procedures

Defendant shall review, revise, implement, distribute and post its policies and procedures against employment discrimination and retaliation prohibited by Title VII (the "Policy"). The Policy shall include the following:

1. A clear explanation of prohibited conduct, including pregnancy discrimination;

2. A statement that pregnancy is not to be considered in any hiring or promotion decisions;

3. Assurances that employees who make complaints of discrimination, including pregnancy discrimination, or provide information related to such complaints are protected against retaliation;

4. Assurances that Defendant will take prompt and appropriate corrective action when it determines that discrimination and/or retaliation, including on the basis of pregnancy, occurred.

Within thirty (30) days of the Effective Date of this Decree, Defendant shall provide to the EEOC a copy of the Policy. The EEOC shall have the opportunity to comment on the policy within ten (10) days of receipt.

Within sixty (60) days of the Effective Date, Defendant shall ensure that it has distributed the Policy to each employee, including supervisors, in California. Within sixty (60) days of the Effective Date, Defendant shall submit to the EEOC a statement confirming the distribution of the Policy.

Within sixty (60) days of the hire date of any person in California hired after the initial distribution but within the term of the Decree, Defendant shall ensure that it has distributed the Policy to that person. On an annual basis through the term of this Decree, Defendant shall submit to the EEOC a statement confirming the distribution of the Policy to any person hired in California after the initial distribution but within the term of the Decree.

Within sixty (60) days of the Effective Date, Defendant shall ensure that it has posted the Policy online through its company Web Portal, which is accessible to all California employees. Within sixty (60) days of the Effective Date, Defendant shall submit to the EEOC a statement confirming the posting of the Policy on its Web Portal.

B. Non-Discrimination Statement

Within thirty (30) days of the Effective Date, Defendant shall ensure that it has included a non-discrimination statement inclusive of pregnancy in all future California job postings and application materials. Within sixty (60) days of the Effective Date, Defendant shall submit to the EEOC a statement confirming the inclusion of the non-discrimination statement.

C. Posting of Notice of Consent Decree and Settlement

Within sixty (60) days of the Effective Date, Defendant shall ensure that it has posted the Notice of Consent Decree (attached to this Decree as Attachment A) in a conspicuous place accessible to all employees at Valencia Town Center Apartments. Within sixty (60) days of the Effective Date, Defendant shall submit to the EEOC a statement confirming the posting of the Notice of Consent Decree.

D. Training

Within ninety (90) days of the Effective Date, and biennially through the term of the Decree, Defendant shall provide interactive training of at least two hours duration to each management employee, supervisor, and human resources/compliance officer with duties in California.

The interactive training required herein for supervisory and human resources employees may be either live or web based. Web based training will include questions that assess learning, skill-building activities, and hypothetical scenarios that allow supervisors to remain measurably engaged in the training, and the course will be designed so that employees cannot complete the course in less than two hours. The training for management employees, supervisors, and human resources/compliance officers shall cover the Policy and federal laws regarding employment discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of sex and pregnancy, and retaliation. The training for management employees, supervisors, and human resources/compliance officers shall also include instructions as to how to avoid employment discrimination, including sex and pregnancy discrimination, in hiring and promotion. All persons required to attend or participate in such training shall verify their attendance in writing.

On at least a biennial basis from the Effective Date through the term of the Decree, non-managerial California employees will receive training and instruction on the Policy and federal laws regarding employment discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of sex and pregnancy, and retaliation. In addition, new hires in California will also view a video and/or a webinar or other web based program, addressing employment laws, within ninety (90) days of their hire.

At least fourteen (14) days prior to any live training session that is covered under this Decree, Defendant shall provide the EEOC with the date(s) and location(s) of the training and a general description of the employees who will be in attendance. For covered live and/or web-based programs, Defendant will provide the EEOC with either a copy of the materials or a summary of the content and length of the programs.

E. Record Keeping

Sentinel shall establish a record-keeping procedure that provides for the centralized tracking of any hiring/promotion decision regarding any position for which any pregnant applicant in California, who was known to be pregnant at the time of her application, applied. The records to be maintained shall include all documents generated in connection with any application or decision regarding any position for which any known pregnant applicant in California applied.

Defendant shall establish a record-keeping procedure that provides for the centralized tracking of any complaints of pregnancy discrimination in California, and retaliation due to such complaints, as well as the monitoring and investigation of such complaints. The records to be maintained shall include all documents generated through the duration of the Decree in connection with any complaint, any investigation into any complaint, the identities of the parties involved, and any resolution.

F. Reporting

Defendant shall provide to the EEOC the following reports annually throughout the term of the Decree:

1. Verification of attendance for all training sessions under this Decree that took place during the previous twelve months, as well as the written materials used in those trainings;

2. Verification of receipt of the Policy by all employees hired in California during the previous twelve months;

3. A description of all pregnancy discrimination complaints made in California since the submission of the immediately preceding report hereunder, as well as any retaliation complaints made in connection with such complaints. This description shall include the names of the individuals alleging pregnancy discrimination or retaliation; the nature of the pregnancy discrimination or retaliation; the names of the alleged perpetrators of pregnancy discrimination or retaliation; the dates of the alleged pregnancy discrimination or retaliation; a brief summary of how each complaint was resolved; and the identity of the employee(s) who investigated and/or resolved each complaint. If no results have been reached as of the time of the report, the result shall be included in the next report; and

4. Verification that the Notice of Consent Decree has continued to be posted in a conspicuous place accessible to all employees at Valencia Town Center.

X. MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS

A. During the term of this Decree, Defendant shall provide any potential successor-in-interest with a copy of this Decree within a reasonable time of not less than ten (10) days prior to the execution of any agreement for acquisition of the entire corporation or change in control of the majority shares of the corporation. Defendant shall simultaneously inform the EEOC of any such agreement for acquisition or assumption of control, or other material change in corporate structure. The parties acknowledge that the foregoing does not apply with respect to any third party purchaser of the Valencia Town Center property or of any properties managed by respondents, when such purchaser does not also constitute a successor in interest.

B. During the term of this Decree, Defendant shall ensure that each of its officers, managers, and supervisors is aware of any term(s) of this Decree which may be related to his or her job duties.

C. Unless otherwise stated, all notices, reports and correspondence required under this Decree shall be delivered to the attention of Anna Y. Park, Regional Attorney, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 255 East Temple Street, 4th Floor, Los Angeles, California, 90012; facsimile number (213) 894-1301.

XI. COSTS AND ATTORNEYS' FEES

Each party shall bear its own costs of suit and attorneys' fees.

All parties, through the undersigned, respectfully apply for and consent to the entry of this Consent Decree Order.

Respectfully Submitted,

U.S. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION Anna Y. Park Derek W. Li

Anna Y. Park Attorneys for Plaintiff EEOC LITTLER MENDELSON, P.C.

Elizabeth Staggs Wilson Attorneys for Defendant SENTINEL REAL ESTATE CORPORATION

[PROPOSED] ORDER

GOOD CAUSE APPEARING: The Court hereby finds that compliance with all provisions of the foregoing Decree is fair and adequate. The Court hereby retains jurisdiction for the term of the foregoing Consent Decree, and the provisions thereof are hereby approved.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

20101008

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